Lifestyle

Classic Mini Cooper


This 1964 Mini Cooper 1275S Works Rally is the forerunner of today's modern, BMW-owned Mini

In 1956, the Suez Crisis caused the folks at Austin to invite Alec Issigonis (later Sir Alec) to design a new car to combat what they saw as looming fuel rationing. When he had finished, the engine was the only part of the car that was not completely new. The compact four-seater famously mounted the enlarged A30 engine transversely, driving the front wheels through a four-speed box located in the sump. Independent all-round hydrolastic suspension used ingenious rubber blocks in compression.

The first prototypes ran in October 1957 and the car was launched in August 1959 with several thousand being pre-built for dealer stock. While the Morris version was called the Mini Minor, the Austin was known as the Se7en, but the name never caught on and soon they were all known as Minis.

The top speed of the first 33-hp models was 70 mph, and the Mini's excellent handling soon attracted tuning specialists. With BMC's agreement, race builder John Cooper produced the first Mini Cooper in 1961. The engine was 997 cc tuned to produce 65 hp, and with twin SU carbs, top speed rose to 85 mph. The Mini began its rally career in 1962. In 1963 the Cooper S with 1,071 cc was quickly followed by the 1,275 cc, which delivered 75 hp and 100 mph. From 1964 to 1967, the Mini was almost unbeatable and would have won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in a row, save for a last-minute rules change. Production of the Mini Cooper continued to 1967 and 44,859 were made. BMC built the Mini Cooper S until 1971, by which time 191,242 had been made.

Although re-badged as a Morris early in its life, this car was originally an Austin Mini Cooper 1275S. Chassis number CA2S7662044 was built at Longbridge, November 26, 1964, and sent to the MG Car Company at Abingdon for rally prep.

DJB 93B took part in the 1965 Swedish and Acropolis Rallies, retiring with mechanical trouble each time, and then finished 13th in class on the 1965 Alpine. With Rauno Aaltonen at the wheel, DJB 93B won the 1965 RAC Rally in the U.K., then Tony Fall won the Scottish Rally in 1966. DJB 93B was retired after an accident in the 1966 Gulf London Rally and not rediscovered until 1986. Since then, it has been successful in hill climbs and it won the 2001 Midland Speed Classic Championship.

The vendor tells us that as far as is practical, DJB 93B has been rebuilt to the original Abingdon Competition specification. It has a restored Mk I body shell, uprated with a double-skinned exhaust tunnel, floor under driver's feet, and cross-member, along with a strengthened bulkhead steady-bar bracket, steering rack mounts, and rear shock mounts, all to Abingdon spec. The restoration remains dry suspension, which replaced the hydrolastic form in period.

The engine produces 117 hp at 7,000 rpm and 107 ft-lbs torque at 5,000 rpm. It incorporates a 1275S thick-flange block bored .020 over to 1,293 cc, Omega dished pistons, Farndon cross-drilled crank, fully machined conrods, a Downton No. 2 cam, and a 12G940 head fed by twin SU H4s. The transmission uses a 22G333 gearbox casing, straight-cut close-ratios, straight-cut drop gears, 4.3:1 final drive and Quaife Torsen-type limited slip.

A list of the equipment includes 1964 glass windows, heated screen and trims as used on the 1965 RAC, a driver's bucket seat with tubular frame and a co-driver's reclining seat that are exact replicas of the originals, current Willans harnesses, a Works dash and navigator's department that are Abingdon-correct, five extra Lucas lamps with quick-release brackets, a swivelling roof light with Aaltonen anti-glare scoop, and six genuine magnesium Minilites wheels with Yokohama A008s. The roof, body, engine, and transmission paint colors are authentic.

The file accompanying the car includes a registration document acknowledging "historic vehicle" status, signed and dated Heritage Certificates that are pre- and post-rebuild, which confirm manufacturing, registration, and competition history, Abingdon build sheets, and much more. The vendor provided a collection of magazines that featured DJB 93B.

The SCM Analysis

This car sold for $196,980 at the Bonhams Race Retro auction at Stoneleigh, U.K., on March 24, 2007.

DJB 93B recorded the highest price ever paid for an ex-Works Mini in a public auction. The car sold to a U.K. private collector.

Is the car worth the money? Historic rally folk do not judge a rally car in the same way as a road car. Provenance is everything and these buyers will pay a lot if this is right. The question is whether or not the restored DJB 93B has retained enough of the race-winning car to be a piece of history.

For a historic rally car to maximize its value, it has to retain as many period components as possible, including its chassis (or monocoque). It has to have achieved significant results in period, and it has to have been restored by a knowledgeable specialist. DJB 93B scores on at least two of these categories, even if similarities to George Washington's axe (three new heads, five new handles) come to mind.

Buyer must be happy with provenance

DJB 93B was the only Mini ever to win the RAC Rally and has a unique place in history. Although the changes made by the original Works team and the recent restorers may have been considerable, the car has an almost complete history and the buyer must have been happy with the provenance.

Industry insiders were reassured because the seller was a former co-driver to Hannu Mikkola and others. Further, no one could criticize the quality of the work that went into the resurrection. The level of accuracy in the replacement bodyshell, engine, transmission, suspension, windows, seats, dashboard, and suspension is reportedly hard to fault.

Rally cars lead extremely hard lives. In the technological infancy of 1965, bodyshells were less strong and rally cars were re-shelled more frequently than now. Works teams and racing privateers often stripped a damaged shell of everything that could be re-used for the next event. It was reasonably common practice for Works teams to swap a number plate between several different cars that were being used simultaneously. As a result, rally car collectors are generally less obsessed with matching numbers and originality.

There might be very little left of the car that won the 1965 RAC Rally, but even so, DJB 93B's checkered past is typical. Should anyone turn up what is purported to be the original 1965 shell, competing claims to the provenance are likely to be offset by the more continuous history of this car.

Restorers were rigorous about accuracy

Another plus point for the buyer is that DJB 93B can be used in anger on modern historic events with a clear conscience. It has already been re-shelled out of period so another replacement bodyshell should not devalue it.

If the RAC Rally had been won by other Works Minis during the model's competitive career, DJB 93B would have been an also-ran. And if the vendor were not so exacting about the restoration, this car would be just another resurrected Works Mini. But the restorers were rigorous and DJB 93B has been beautifully rebuilt to period-correct specifications. The market has spoken as to its value.

Years Produced: 1964-71

Number Produced: 191,242

Original List Price: $2,181

SCM Valuation: $18,000-$30,000 (at time of print)

Tune-up Cost: $200

Distributor Caps: $9

Chassis #: CA2S7662044

Chassis # Location: Riveted to radiator shroud

Engine # Location: Below thermostat housing

Club Info: Mini Cooper Club, 59 Giraud Street, Poplar, London, E14 6EE, UK; Mini Cooper Register, P.O. Box 1275, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4XD, UK.

Web Site: http://www.minicooper.org

Alternatives: 1964-67 Renault R8 Gordini, 1963-67 Ford Lotus-Cortina, 1965-67 Saab Monte Carlo 850

Investment Grade: B


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